US should act within spirit of alliance: Turkey’s VP
“As Turkey, our expectation from the U.S. is for it to act according to the spirit of the alliance in every single area,” Oktay said in his budget speech in parliament on Dec. 10.
“We also want to see an America that respects Turkey’s fight against terrorist organizations,” state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Oktay saying.
Turkey has long sought the extradition of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen who is accused of leading the FETÖ network and masterminding the defeated military coup attempt in 2016.
Ankara also accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Middle East question
In his speech, Oktay called on the U.S. to stop supporting Israel’s “lawless and unethical moves on the Palestine and Jerusalem issues” in order to maintain its position as a “reliable ally”.
Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump triggered an international outcry by announcing plans to move Washington’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital. The relocated embassy was opened in May.
Since the move, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah has rejected any mediating role by the U.S. in the moribund Middle East peace process.
International law continues to view East Jerusalem, along with the entire West Bank, as “occupied territory” and considers all Jewish settlement construction there to be illegal.
Cyprus and Idlib
Citing Turkey’s regional politics, the vice president underscored that Turkey would “by no means” tolerate any measures by Greece or Greek Cyprus against Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
He added that Ankara would not make “the slightest” compromise regarding its hydrocarbon interests around Cyprus, the Aegean Sea or the Eastern Mediterranean.
Oktay praised the establishment of a demilitarized zone in Syria’s Idlib province under a Turkish-Russian accord reached on Sept. 17 in the Russian city of Sochi which was supported by Iran, saying it had averted a “very large humanitarian crisis” there.
The vice president stressed that Turkey would now aim to split the “terror corridor” along its southern border east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria.
“The dissolution of the terror corridor east of the Euphrates is now on our agenda,” he said, pointing to the YPG militants who are supported by the U.S. in the fight against ISIL despite being deemed as an offshoot of the illegal PKK by Ankara.
PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.
A possible mission east of the Euphrates, which Turkey’s leadership has been suggesting for months, would follow two successful cross-border Turkish operations into Syria - Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch - which were both meant to eradicate the presence of YPG/PKK and ISIL militants near Turkey’s borders.